Late Kansas Quail Hunting Season Winter Conditions
Late Season Quail Hunter Comments
"...It was foggy most of the two days I hunted. All of the ground cover had heavy frost. Started around nine. Pants thoroughly saturated by ten so I only hunted until one or so. Harvested 10 quail in two days...Harvested 6 of the 10 in pasture, not crp or crop fields. Because of the rain this year the pastures were not grazed as much and had plenty of cover and weed seed..." Mike
Fog ice covered volunteer native grass on a fallow farm in central Kansas. Only those that feel they "must" hunt hunt through this wet cover. Older hunters would wait until noon. By then the ice crystals have melted and evaporated.
From Another Hunter
Winter brings an intensity to waste grain crop field quail. The two brown blurs are quail in the picture at right.
Winter survival as shown in the limits of a web page.
These pictures will not be new to the experienced Kansas hunter. Our illustrating winter survival indicators is a matter of our personal interest in quail. It does well to introduce to those that will be making their first trip to our region some of what may be encountered during winter..
Kansas Snow Depth
Shown below are overlapping old and fresh Bobwhite Quail tracks. This was during one of our more snow covered and colder winters.
The deeper tracks are from when the snow was fresh and soft at the time it accumulated on the ground. The surface tracks and fresher were from after the initial snow fall. The snow surfaced firmed up with an intervening thaw then freeze. That firmed up the snow surface enough to support the weight of the quail. Then we had just a dusting of fresh snowfall accumulation allowing record of the surface tracks.
The overlapping nature of the tracks is common to the localize area wild quail occupy. It is during such times of snow cover that this is well illustrated.
The winter this snowfall occurred did cover a longer period of time than average. Ground accumulation showing well just how small of an area quail will call home. For those with quail finding dog power and willingness to walk finding such spots typically under 10 acres in size should happen a couple of times each day. The frustrating part is when the fresh covey tracks are found and no quail pointed.
What covey tracks do well is to calibrate the hunter's eye of where quail occupy a farm. Narrowing down those spots to 10 acres saves much walking on a 160 acre farm.
Our common winter is to have a short duration, typically less than 24 hour snowfall, followed by alternating warm ups and cool downs. What is also typically of our winter snows is they are wind driven making the edge habitat a victim of drifting snow. This may deny the quail of the lower to ground level cover on the downwind side of any thin edge they love to occupy.
Covey tracks found at the bottom of a small dry drainage. Sure to be a quail covey nearby.
Fresh covey tracks even when found the morning after the previous night's snowfall does not mean the dog and hunter will find the quail. With snow on the ground more covey tracks will be found than coveys.
Below, quail covey tracks moving from the field edge out to corn (left) and soybean mixed with edge cover along with quail tracks at right.
Crop Rotation Effects Quail Covey Location
Hunting over grain fields changes each year with crop rotation. Winter wheat followed by cut wheat are the least productive. Soybean less than corn and milo being the best in terms of coveys found by type of crop during the season.
Not all farms are as winter survivable as others.
Example #1: A farm with more than one crop type on it from year to year split by a wooded, brush and grassed drainage is more likely to hold a covey from season to season given grain crop rotation. This would be a spot where on one side of the drainage there is a different crop than the other making it more likely a quail desired waste grain field each winter.
Example #2: A farm of one type of crop and a drainage of hard woods without brush and grass is less likely to have a covey. Once the crop rotation changes to less desirable food types last year's hot spot may turn cold.
For the good farms, meaning quail loving grain farms, it then comes down to harvest efficiency or the lack thereof, picture below. The ones with the most food are likely to have that same covey on the next hunt the following season.
Having soybean on the stalk into the winter keeps far more high protein gain available throughout the winter enhancing quail survival.
Quail Hunters - A Minority In Mid-America Hunting Association
Quail hunters seems to have come down to only those with a strong history of dogs and past decades of hunts continue to hunt quail. Those that do are of the more senior set of hunters ranging to the point of being in the stone age with film/paper picture cameras. Their computers are limited to hand held calculators.
Pictures Are Deceptive
Those that do hunt quail are less likely to take pictures. Those few that do, do so more for pictures on their wall than this web site. Those that do send in their photos are well respected recognizing fully the extra effort it takes to carry the camera. They capture many more pictures than what are saved. The ones sent in typically are of special memories. Those that do send in pictures also send them in every year. These picture collections makes some hunters appear to have exceptional quail dogs or hunts. That may be true. What is more likely is they have the same quality hunt as anyone else. It is these hunters seem to enjoy their hunt more. The pictures make for that enjoyment.
Another Self Guided Kansas Quail Hunting Snapshot
A private land grain farm part of a larger lease of 3,400 acres. Showing is a cut field covered in snow that continues to produce.
We ended up covering 5 farms and found four coveys. We shot 7 birds and did not follow singles to give the birds a break since the weather was turning bad.
PJ and Libby were both on point at the same time. We went in on Libby and flushed a covey. PJ stayed on point through the covey rise and shooting and held a single that must have strayed from the covey.
The rest of the story behind this last set of in the field photos, is the two hunters had hunted the entire farm seen in the background. It was not until the last stretch of fence line cover was a covey found. The good part was this is an 80 acre farm and the walk was short.